by Sara Rachele
Independent songwriter and Blogger, Fem2pt0
White Girl Sings the Blues
Oh, the wonders of a true statement. A statement based in prejudice. The prejudices available in music are many—I see it when I play shows, the ease in which it takes a few moments for someone to judge my talent, before I’ve said a word. I’ve been raised in the American South, a city kid from downtown Atlanta – Decatur, Ga to be specific. Home of Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, The Ying Yang Twins, the Indigo Girls, and Shawn Mullins, among others.
An Art House in Decatur, Ga
I grew up with privilege, socio-economically, and race was always a large part of many family discussions, as my neighborhood where my family still lives, is still considered a “white flight” community from the ‘50s. But mycity, Decatur, GA, is one of the few in the nation to have a higher minority population of African Americans. I thank the cultural implications of my youth as the best way I learned aboutmusic. I grew up singing in church. My mother is a painter, and taught in our community. I grew up singing hymns. I grew up down the street from where Martin Luther King Jr, also did. These are the influences that brought my Italian-American father, and a mill-town mother from Virginia to raise a folk musician.
Race-Tension in the South, from a Folkie
My parents drove me to school across town, and spent the money they had (and mostly money they didn’t) on a private school education. I dropped out of college three times, but eventually graduated from Berklee College of Music, emerged as a folk writer, with urban roots – and a giant, private-schooled chip on my shoulder. Life in Atlanta just isn’t like life in Boston, MA. The middle class looks, acts, and is in a lot of ways entirely different than the middle class I know. Musically, I grew up in such a rich community that it almost made me laugh sometimes to go to a jazz school with one of the highest costs of attendance of any school.
Difference as a Teacher of Art – Difficulty That Makes You Sing
Differences in physical attributes have always been a part of my writing. Songwriting is a place where it’s a little more acceptable to talk about differences, and I use it as a place to really throw my words around. I can’t claim to know anything, except for that I am so proud of where I’m from, as a woman, and as a human. Racial tension made me observant. I didn’t realize until I moved to New York City, what the differences were. And I’m still not sure if I entirely understand what it means to be raised among lots of different cultures, an anthropological amphibian as most songwriters seem to be. Whatever it is, let’s write about it. Let’s talk about it, together.
This post is part of the YWCA Stand Against Racism blog carnival – we invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.